On missing flash and hitting pages

On missing flash and hitting pages

February 1, 2023 Off By JR

I bumped into this post via Pat Lockely on Linkedin and it made me reflect on a couple of things, including kicking me into gear to write a bit about a project from last year I’ve been meaning to write about, so thanks Pat!

I’m doing a lot of work in articulate 360 or storyline or whatever the new name is for the past. If you’ve never used articulate it’s sort of like PowerPoint and flash had a child that neither of them really recognised. Flash was a programming tool which did animation without thinking about it. I’m not sure anyone programs with PowerPoint, but it does what it does. You can sort of program in articulate but you’d not want to. Articulate and PowerPoint are primarily text and some limited animation. You could make a proper cartoon in flash. You could choose a start shape and position, draw the end shape and position and then just create a tween between them. It was easy.

given PowerPoints almost complete, insurmountable dominance of teaching material, it makes sen for articulate to be almost PowerPoint. Most windows user interfaces are about the same, so if you want adoption , there’s a skill in being as close to something else as you can be. There’s no learning curve if you’ve done it before. But then you want to animate something properly and you can’t. You just can’t.

I mentioned in a previous post that many rapid elearning authoring tools started life as PowerPoint plugins, and Articulate is one of them. I’ve been diving into using the 360 suite a bit more as well, and I think Pat is spot on with how the tool feels. Some of what I’m dealing with at the moment is learning how the tool has changed in the last ten years since I last really used it, but some are just terrible UI decisions. I’m ok with dunking on big players; Articulate has like 60+% of the authoring market, so they’re not going anywhere. One of the testaments that the UI  could improve is Tim Slade’s YouTube series on authoring with Storyline. Tim’s videos are top-notch, but often he will posit a question about doing something simple in Storyline, and the answer is “it’s hidden in plain sight” (which translates to buried in right clicks and menus). Anyway, Tim’s videos show different types of animations you can do, and mostly they are moving objects instead of transforming objects (which I think is what Pat is getting after). Storyline does an ok job at this, but it’s not necessarily what it is made for, which probably exacerbates the problem.

Euan Hill shared this example on LinkedIn shortly after I saw Pat’s post and it left an impression.

So it looks like pretty flashy (ha!) animation is possible in Storyline with the right assets and time to fiddle with things. But if you are after a tool that does animation how you want animation to be done, then you’re left going elsewhere (which we used to have to do in the Flash days, it’s just different tools now). The Learning Guild released a report last year about the top tools in L&D, and the animation tool that made the biggest splash was Vyond. You can hardly throw a rock anywhere in the L&D world (especially on the corporate side) without hitting someone who uses Vyond for animations. Animations are taken from there and brought into Storyline, and the examples I’ve seen are pretty darn smooth. It’s worth noting that H5P made it into that list last year!

If you read this blog, you know I would pivot to talking about H5P sooner or later here.

Do you know what has even fewer animation options than PPT or Storyline? H5P. The animation tools are a big zero. I ran into this limitation last year while working on a branching scenario (I still have to do a full post about that project). There were some scenes in the scenario we would show students an ECG (it’s a CPR for dogs scenario). During user testing, one of the pieces of feedback we received was that the still image was ok, but the content didn’t feel alive.

A slide with a static ECG depicting three pulses then flat lining

Static ECG during user testing

This had been something I was thinking about. Jen, the subject matter expert, had a special simulation software for mocking up ECG readings. She captured the example doing a few loops as a video, and I created an animated GIF from that. Why a GIF and not a video? We wanted students to see it moving without clicking “play.” The result was pretty decent, given the restraints, we were under and the turnaround time needed. In the future, I might use actual animation software instead, but this seemed to work well enough for our second group of users.

A animation of an ECG with three pulses, then flat lining.

This is a screen capture GIF so it looks a little rougher than the real product.


Have you had to incorporate animations into H5P projects? How did you do it?